Before – what are your expectations or anticipations as you look forward to Interim? What are you uncertain about? What question do you have going in? What do you hope will happen?
I was very excited to travel to Germany because a) I took German as my foreign language in high school b) I taught WWI, WWII, and the Holocaust for many years, and c) I had never been to Europe before. I was anxious about flying over the ocean and being on a plane for such a long period of time. I was anxious about how the students would accept and interact with me as someone who they only know as an authority figure at school.
Backward – what is the story of your Interim experience?
My Interim experience was better than I could have imagined. My curiosity and love of history was sparked and I spent much of the following weeks reading up on each city, site, and discovery. I watched several documentaries on the Holocaust and the rise of Nazism, noticing specific locations where our group was standing (the Marienplatz, the Brandenburg Gate, Dachau). Also, I felt that many of the students connected with me. I made a deliberate effort to show interest, play card games, and interact as much as possible while also giving space.
Inward – what have you learned about yourself through this experience? What was particularly frustrating or satisfying?
I learned that I have a stronger desire to see distant parts of the world than I realized. I learned that many students here at school do not know who I am, they only know what they perceive based on my role. It is much easier to connect with students as a teacher because you consistently interact on a daily basis. I have to be extra intentional to forge relationships in the “in between” moments during a school day.
Outward – What is one thing in particular you want other people to know about your experience?
I want people to know how fortunate they are to have these opportunities. They are truly incredible and a more important part of achieving our mission of developing students who are ‘globally competitive.’ Many of them have traveled before age 14-18 to other countries. I’m 41 and this was my first time to Europe.
Forward – What passion or curiosity was sparked in you through this experience that you want to dig deeper into and pursue further?
My curiosity was definitely sparked regarding Hitler’s rise to power. I have done a fairly deep dive into parts of his personal timeline that I wasn’t interested in before actually standing in those places. The feeling at Dachau was so eery and awful – the worst of humanity. How could someone like Hitler convince so many people to support him? Having taught history, I knew all about the Treaty of Versailles and the economic factors, nazi propaganda, etc. But something about physically being in some of those locations like Nuremberg and the Hofsbrauhaus made it very real and allowed me to understand things I have only previously read about or seen in documentaries in a whole new way.